Google would owe Swiss media 154 million francs

A study has calculated how much money Google and other search engines would owe Swiss media: 154 million Swiss francs. Currently, Swiss media houses and media professionals generally go away empty-handed.

(Image: VSM)

For search engines, journalistic content is an important factor for their success, according to a study: users rate Google as more complete, of higher quality and more trustworthy when journalistic content is displayed.

The study published on Friday, although commissioned by the Swiss Media Association itself, shows that Google is used more often and more intensively when journalism is involved.

The study also calculated how much money the corporations would have to pay Swiss media houses and media professionals if they were obliged to do so. It is apparently 154 million francs.

A "fair share" of 154 million

The study authors calculated a value contribution of the Swiss media for the "Google ecosystem". In view of the estimated advertising revenues of CHF 1.1 billion - Google does not report these - 154 million would be "a fair share" according to the study.

But Swiss media houses and media professionals would see nothing of this money, because the money would remain within the "Google ecosystem," according to the study. For the study authors, this is clearly "a market failure that needs regulation.

The Publishers Association has been calling for a performance protection right for some time. "The study shows that the ancillary copyright is necessary and urgent," association president Andrea Masüger is quoted as saying in a statement. The work of journalists must be protected from the superiority of the tech giants.

Google: Journalism "almost irrelevant

Google takes note of the study "with interest," the company told Keystone-SDA news agency in response to an inquiry. However, the findings would contradict "previous, neutral studies".

Google mentions in particular the study by Sistrix, an analysis program for website rankings. This study shows that journalistic content is almost irrelevant for Google. Google, on the other hand, increases the reach of publishers with its services and thus provides them with additional revenue.

In total, 8 billion clicks per month would be redirected from Google Search and Google News search results to platforms of European publishers.

Google wants to have its say

The Group announced to Keystone-SDA that it would "contribute to the debate at the appropriate time". This debate will get underway in the near future when the Federal Council submits a proposal for a performance protection right for consultation.

However, such a "Google tax" is controversial in some quarters on the conservative side. The liberal think tank Avenir Suisse has already called the idea "media subsidies through the back door. Money from foreign tech companies would be used to support the domestic media industry.

The Swiss media would benefit from the search engines. After all, their articles get more attention that way. If a user follows the link, there are various ways for publishers to monetize the content, for example through advertising or a paywall.

Such a performance protection right already exists in the EU and other countries. (SDA/swi)

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